This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today


Cue fireworks…

Are the KAUST celebrations getting a bit too sweet?

By Matin Durrani

I mentioned in my two blog entries yesterday that the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia is not exactly short of cash – it has a $10bn endowment from the man himself.

One US physicist said he’d heard that the whole inauguration has cost $80m – flying in thousands of guests (including physics Nobel laureates Gerard ‘t Hooft and Chen Ning Yang) putting them up in the best hotels in Jeddah, and giving them all, myself included, nice little luggage tags with the KAUST logo.

A fair whack must have also gone on the fireworks that concluded the official launch party last night, which were probably enough to have kept most physics departments in business for a few years at least.

The event took place in what was dubbed “the tent” – a temporary structure about two football pitches in size with an exhibition hall, auditorium and vast dining area. Air-conditioned to the hilt, the plastic windows dripped with condensation on the outside. A troupe of drummers lined the stage as we waited for the king’s jet to land.

Once settled in his seat, there followed speeches from the likes of the minister for petroleum and KAUST’s president Choon Fong Shih, and then specially recorded films beamed onto the huge backdrop to the stage. One featured a boy on the sunlit beach, picking up stones – presumably a nod to Newton’s comment about just being like a boy on the shores of discovery – backed by rousingly cheesy music.

With the heads of state of Bahrain, Jordan, Malaysia and elsewhere — not to mention the Duke of York (aka Prince Andrew) — sitting alongside him, the King then mounted the stage, delivering a thankfully short address, which should soon be available here.

The drummers marched off stage right while the king pressed his hand into a weird tablet that shot out a puff of smoke in green-and-white Saudi colours. The back wall of the stage parted – and there, through the windows, was the university and its iconic tower lit up against the night sky

Cue fireworks.

“It’s like Disneyland” muttered one physicist later to me.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

One comment to Cue fireworks…

  1. Hello Matin,
    Thank you for your coverage of the event.
    I had noticed “…as we waited for the king’s jet to land.”. The way I saw it on TV was that the King was sitting on a chair at the entrance greeting each of the heads of state as they arrived in their vehicles.
    Was what we saw different than what you’ve experienced?


  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="">IOP</blockquote>
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text